Top 5: Facts on Color Temperature

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Color temperature is a topic we get questions on all the time at Cardello Electric. Some people understand lightbulb colors as either LED or incandescent. LED being some awful blue green hue, a kind of evil twin to the warm, soft glow of incandescent. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. The different colors of light are measured by a light source’s CCT or Correlated Color Temperature. Keep reading to discover more about Correlated Color Temperature and which temperature is best for your applications!

1. Made to Scale

Correlated Color Temperature is a scale used in lighting to measure the color temperature of a luminaire. The CCT rating for a lamp is the general “warmth” or “coolness” of its light.

2. Lord Kelvin

Correlated Color Temperature is measured by a unit referred to as the Kelvin (K) after Lord Kelvin (William Thomson) who wrote of the need for a scale that “infinite cold” was absolute zero or −273 °C.

3. The Yellow, White & Blue

In regards to lighting, The Kelvin scale is typically utilized for measurements between 1,000-10,000 (1,000 being candlelight, 10,000 being a blue sky). Picture heating a piece of metal and watching the color of the metal change at rising temperatures. It will appear to glow red and as heat is added it will turn to a yellow hue, then to white, then to a blue-white, and finally a blue tint.

4. Choose Wisely

Though manufacturers definitions of color temperature may vary slightly, the following is a good starting place for learning which color temperature is right for your applications.

Warm White
Produces an intimate, inviting glow
• Color Temperature (KELVINS): 2,000-3000K
• Appearance: Orange to yellow-white in appearance
• Ideal uses: most residential interior applications (i.e. bedrooms, bathrooms, dining rooms, etc.), decorative exterior lighting, ambient lighting for commercial applications.

Bright White
Produces a bright, vibrant light
• Color Temperature (KELVINS): 3100-4500K
• Appearance: Neutral white, may have a slight blue tint
• Ideal uses: basements, garages, kitchens and work environments

Produces a crisp, invigorating light
• Color Temperature (KELVINS): 4,600-6,500K
• Appearance: Blue-white light similar to daylight
• Ideal uses: display areas, security lighting, task lighting, garages

5. CCT or CRI?

CCT, Correlated Color Temperature is not the same as CRI, Color Rendering Index. CCT is the color of the light, CRI is th emeasure of a light source’s ability to show object colors accurately. The higher the CRI, the more accurate the color.

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